Saturday, April 17, 2010

Oneness

Jesus prayed that we may be one. He prayed "that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us."  He asked God, "that they may be one just as we are one: I in them, and you in me; that they may be made perfect in one...."

These words are often interpreted to refer to ecclesiastical unity, ecumenical cooperation, or local church harmony. Church lovefests are nice, but Jesus is speaking about something more profound than getting along with other humans. He is speaking about unity with God.

During the early centuries of Christianity, church bigwigs spent a lot of time in ecumenical councils trying to figure out exactly how God the Son is one with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. They pondered the humanity of Jesus and how it relates to his divinity. When they thought they had it figured out, and they wrote their conclusions in carefully worded doctrinal statements.

It makes for good seminary material for aspiring ministers.  But Jesus was not praying for professional theologians. He is praying for ordinary folks. Pondering the intricacies of the Trinity may be important, but I am more concerned with my life in God.

Jesus prayed that our oneness with him and God would be the same as his oneness to God. Ponder his request for a moment: Oneness with God....

Doctrinal investigation is good mental exercise, and it is important on the intellectual level. But these days I am more interested in experiential theology. My heart needs to experience Jesus' prayer more than my head needs to understand it. Somewhere beneath my head and heart, I am soul or spirit - or whatever theologians want to call it. There is where I experience the truth of Jesus' prayer.

There is where Jesus' prayer is answered. When the prayer was answered I do not know - whether at my conversion, at the cross, on Easter morning, or when the Lamb was slain at the foundation of the world. Whenever it happened, it is eternally true now.

It is true whether or not the church can label it, understand it, explain it or doctrinize it. We are one as God is one, as God is in Jesus and Jesus in God and Jesus in us. We are one ... perfect in one.

Don't ask me to draw lines around this oneness, or make distinctions within this oneness. Then it would not be one. Don't ask me to describe it in philosophical terms. Don't just believe it, be it. Be the answer to Jesus' answer.

Art is "Oneness" by Cornelis Monsma, Oil on panel, inspired by John 17:22.

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